The Ottawa Film Office, in partnership with TriBro Studios, has put forward a proposal to convert the former Greenbelt Research Farm into a movie studio, soundstage campus and creative hub. The NCC is moving forward with this proposal, which would breathe new life into the underused facility.

The latest on the project

On April 23, 2020, the NCC’s Board of Directors approved the site plan concept and preliminary design.

The approval is conditional on the following:

  • federal land use, design and transaction approval for the developed design, once prepared
  • site plan approval by the City of Ottawa
  • a satisfactory lease agreement with the proponents.

These requirements must be fulfilled before construction can begin.

About the project

This project would use a previously developed portion of the property that has been underused for many years. The proposed investments would generate a new use for the vacant buildings.

According to the proponent’s estimates, the project could create in excess of 1,000 skilled jobs, and generate $40 million annually in economic impacts.

Process and timeline

Discussions on the project began in 2018. The project is ongoing.

On September 5, 2018, we held an open house to gauge public reaction to the proposed amendments to the Greenbelt Master Plan. An online consultation was also available from September 6 to 19, 2018.

On November 23, 2018, the Board approved an amendment to the Greenbelt Master Plan.

The amendment conditionally permits the development a film studio on land designated as being for federal facilities and operations, as an exception to the Greenbelt Master Plan.

To offset the environmental impacts of the proposed new facility and meet the NCC’s “no net loss” policy for the Greenbelt, the amendment established compensation measures:

  • renaturalization of a 21.5-hectare site on Bank Street (the former Capital Golf Centre)
  • removal of existing structures at the Greenbelt Research Farm
  • establishment of a naturalized riparian zone along Black Rapids Creek from Woodroffe Avenue to Greenbank Road.

To find out more about the proposal and its requirements, visit the Ottawa Film Office website.

Over the summer of 2020, the proponent is expected to refine their proposal in line with feedback from the NCC’s Advisory Committee on Planning, Design and Realty and the conditions of the approval letter.

Construction is expected to begin in fall 2020.

As part of this process, we engaged the public through an open house, which attracted over 200 people, and an online consultation.

For an overview of what we heard, see the public consultation report at the end of the November 2018 Board submission.

About the site

The Greenbelt Research Farm, also known as the Woodroffe Storage Facility, is located in the Greenbelt’s Southern Farm and Pinhey Forest sector. Specifically, the 8.4-hectare site is located at 1740 Woodroffe Avenue, near the intersection with West Hunt Club Road.

It is a former animal research centre, a 1960s-era federal facility that closed in 1998. The site is now managed by the NCC.

Over the years, it has been used primarily as a storage facility. In recent years, a few buildings that were in a state requiring minimal intervention were leased.

Since 2000, this serviced site has remained primarily unoccupied and underutilized, despite efforts to find a federal department requiring a secluded and isolated space, away from residential neighbourhoods and communities.

The property is within the National Interest Land Mass (NILM), and on land designated for federal facilities and operations in the Greenbelt Master Plan.